Tuesday, November 30, 2010

FSOT Redux

Another move? But of course, by now you know that 6 months is about the maximum amount of time Red and I can stay in one place. We are finally settling into our new condo which had a beautiful view of Lady Bird Lake and as anyone who has been to Austin knows is nothing more than a river. How long of a lease did we sign you might be asking yourself? Why, 6 months of course! The advantage of signing a 6 month lease on a condo is that our landlord is more than willing to go month to month after that, at the same rate. How could we pass that up?

Red has been a flurry of activity the last month and has carved out a nice niche for herself at the marketing agency. She's been putting in some major hours leading up to last week but finally crested the wave and is now enjoying back-to-back three day work weeks. Her Mom is coming this week to spend several nights with us and will be our first overnight guest. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with her being that she lives in Amarillo and we rarely get to see each other.

A quick update on Downtown, she is loving the Ukraine and integrating just as quickly as I knew she would.  Here's a message she sent me a few weeks ago:

"today at lunch we had plain noodles with cutlit, and there was some mayo on the table and I thought that I would spice things up and I put some mayo on the plain noodles and I liked it.... mmm mayo noodles!! It made me think of when you told me that within 3 months I would be putting mayo on everyting and I told you that you were so wrong!! haha"

That made me smile and also miss my days in the old bloc. On a related note, I am flying to Denver after New Years to visit my PC buddies Peanut, Earth Baby, Z and Kare Bear. Maybe even Z's little dog Ursalica. We are having our first reunion and silliness, laughter and merriment are sure to be had in excess. I'm very happy that we are making this happen especially since its been over a year, barely but still...

It is closing in on that time and my preparations for FSOT Redux has officially begun. I've pulled out the books and completed but not sent in the application. I'm waiting until mid-January to submit it because I want as many eyes to edit it as possible.

This, upon further review of my last attempt, was my Wounded Knee. I reviewed my last application and had to turn off the computer in disgust.

A list of why my application stank

  • I did not include my entire job history
  • My job descriptions were vague and short
  • My qualifications section was vague and short
  • I came in woefully under the allotted character count
  • I did not sell myself well enough as a viable candidate

 My failure was due to hubris. I felt I would shellack the test, which I did, but failed to realize the QEP was as stringent as it was. I moved from FSOT preparation to FSOA preparation and cockily assumed my safe passage through QEP was a given. If I had a beard at the time I should have eaten it. Ok enough self-pity, yes I am a middle child so this a forte of mine.

How am I approaching the FSOT differently my second time around? I am not worrying much about the Job Knowledge and English Expression aspects, I will do some review of the Constitution, Econ and Management theory along with keeping up-to-date from my news sources. I am spending the majority of my time practicing the essay portion and Bio section. Although my Bio section score was strong, it felt the weakest. I am practicing by highlighting relevant events from my past that are applicable to this section. I would suggest coming up with ten events and experiences that would answer typical interview questions such as how have you managed a project or people in the past, etc... Having "sound bites" in your quiver is a great way to keep plodding through the Bio section.

The essay section is like a running a race. Training will allow you to finish faster and therefore correct the unavoidable mistakes and grammatical errors. I've found that one or two a week is good and upping to three the week before can't hurt. Time yourself of course and disable spellcheck. Try and finish with at least 5 minutes remaining, this is doable, but again, with practice. Don't second guess yourself, if something reads awkwardly, like many of these blog posts, delete it and rewrite it. Keep it punchy and vary sentence length. Follow the tried and true format:

  1. Intro/Thesis
  2. Transition/Point 1
  3. Transition/Point 2
  4. Transition/Point 3
  5. Conclusion/Restate thesis and summarize points

I wouldn't recommend trying for more than three points/ideas unless your typing skills are superb. I can consistently hit the high 50's and rarely get a 4th and 5th point into my practice essays. I know plenty of people that can type faster than me but at some point you're going to have to reread and edit what you wrote.

All for now. I wanted to talk about the Wikileaks cablegate but will save that for a latter post.